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New Zealand terror attack & Senate rebukes Trump: The Morning Rundown

"This is one of New Zealand's darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after 49 people were killed in shootings at two mosques.
Image: Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand,
Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand after the mass shooting.Mark Baker / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

New Zealand is in mourning after at least 49 people were killed and dozens injured in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Here's what we're watching today.

'An extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence'

The mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers appeared to be a carefully planned terrorist attack.

"This is one of New Zealand's darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. "Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

Ardern called the incident a terrorist attack and described the alleged perpetrators as people "having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world."

Social media posts including racist, anti-Muslim, far-right rhetoric were published online by someone who appeared to have had prior knowledge of the shootings, including pictures of weapons and ammunition.

One man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said during a press conference.

Mass shootings are extremely rare in New Zealand, where the worst incidence of mass violence in modern history killed 13 people.

Dozen Senate Republicans join in rebuke of Trump

The Senate voted 59-41 on Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration to fund a border wall.

Remarkably, 12 Republicans reached across the aisle to join Democrats in a bipartisan rebuke of the president.

Ahead of the vote, several of the GOP senators criticized Trump's move as presidential overreach that set a "dangerous precedent" and undermined the separation of powers laid out in the Constitution.

Trump responded to the vote with a one word tweet: "VETO!"

Meantime, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution — with a vote of 420 to zero — calling for special counsel Robert Mueller's report to be made available to the public and Congress.

However, the resolution is non-binding, meaning that Mueller and Attorney General William Barr would not be forced to make any materials public.

What does Beto O'Rourke stand for? That's a work in progress

The White House hopeful's new campaign website offers no policy ideas. So where does he fit in a crowded Democratic primary field?

Depending on who you ask, he's either arriving late to a battle of ideas he's not unequipped to fight, or he's smartly coasting above the fray of the internecine wars of Twitter activists that few voters really care about.

"Campaigns aren't typically won based on a side-by-side of issues, but instead by voters judging the character and vision of candidates," said Ben LaBolt, a former aide to Barack Obama.

Speaking of the former president O'Rourke has frequently been compared to, NBC News' Jonathan Allen writes that Beto isn't Obama 2.0.

Allen argues that there are big differences between the two that could help determine whether or not O'Rourke can actually follow in Obama's footsteps all the way to the White House.

Image: Beto O'Rourke Campaigns in Burlington
O'Rourke speaks during his first official day of campaigning in Burlington, Iowa, yesterday.Daniel Acker / Reuters

'They're bargaining with our future'

Thousands of students across the U.S. are expected to stage school walkouts on Friday, joining peers around the world to demand action on climate change.

"The political climate in the States right now is doing nothing," said Max Prestigiacomo, 17, who is organizing a demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin. "They're bargaining with our future."

The American students are expected to be joined by similar strikes in nearly 100 countries.

Image: Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg pose during an interview with AFP during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting
Swedish teen Greta Thunberg's activism has inspired students around the world. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP - Getty Images

The Week in Pictures

From the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash to any extraordinary bloom of wildflowers in California, see the most compelling images from the last week.

A mourner in throws dirt in her face after realizing there are no remains of her relative to be recovered at the Ethiopian Airlines crash site.Mulugeta Ayene / AP


THINK about it

The college admissions scandal isn't about parental sacrifice. It's about the intergenerational transfer of greed, Erika Nicole Kendall writes in an opinion piece.

Quote of the day

"They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not."

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern alluding to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive for the mass shootings and that many of the victims may be migrants or refugees.

One fun thing

After all the grim news about corruption in the college admission process this week, here's an uplifting story.

Dylan Chidick, a formerly homeless high school student in New Jersey, can't remove the smile from his face after he was accepted to 17 of the 18 colleges he applied to.

Since immigrating from Trinidad at the age of 7, Chidick and his family have faced prejudice, homelessness and financial struggles.

“I believe that education is the key to basically the world. Nobody could take away the knowledge that you have,” Chidick, who would be the first person in his family to attend college, told NBC News.

“They could take away your job or your money, but knowledge that you have in your brain, nobody could ever take that away.”

Dylan Chidick, a formerly homeless New Jersey teen who has been accepted into 17 colleges.
Dylan Chidick, a formerly homeless New Jersey teen who has been accepted into 17 colleges.NBC News

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Thanks, Petra